Highlighting HBCUs was the perfect way to start the 2021 college football season and it should continue for years to come.
ESPN’s dedication to the MEAC/SWAC Challenge was a nice celebration of Black culture and the impact of HBCUs.
From the College GameDay crew pulling up to Atlanta and embracing energy around the game to the Migos taking the stage and performing with the help of the marching bands, it was just a great day for the HBCU family.
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And the game didn’t disappoint either.
North Carolina Central shocked everyone in the HBCU Community by defeating SWAC powerhouse Alcorn State 23-14.
Alcorn State struggled to get into a real rhythm all night in their passing game because their offensive line couldn’t block the Central front seven. The Braves were able to establish a running game, but once Central created a view turnovers the momentum shifted. The final straw was a 77-yard punt return TD from Brandon Codrington that put the game out of reach.
In May, ESPN and both the MEAC and SWAC agreed to a six-year contract to televise both the MEAC/SWAC challenge and the Celebration Bowl (the unofficial Black college championship game). This is great news for the HBCU community because it means that the two main division one Black college football events will remain in front of a national audience. This will continue to grow the exposure for these universities who have not only produced a plethora of professional Black talent on the playing field but also in the classroom.
This was only the third time that College GameDay has attended an HBCU game. The previous stops were Hampton at Florida A&M (2008) and Grambling vs. Southern (2005).
There needs to continue to be a concerted effort to uplift and highlight these universities, not just once in a while but consistently. Why not allow GameDay to cover the MEAC/SWAC Challenge every year and have it serve as the permanent “kickoff” to the college football season? And why not have the same coverage in Atlanta for the Celebration Bowl which has traditionally kicked off the Bowl season in recent years.
Not to mention, the show could do a brief breakdown of the HBCU game of the week throughout the season. They could easily take the most high-profile HBCU game of the week and give a couple of minutes of coverage to these schools.
Every time that we can have HBCUs on the national stage, it will benefit these historic universities. Let’s make this a weekend of HBCU celebration normal and keep these schools in the national conversation. Their contributions to society have proven that they deserve that much and more.